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Florida businessman pays 36 families’ outstanding utility bills

3 min read

Good Stuff
Source: Weartv.com

A pool installation company owner in Florida spent $4,600 to pay off the bills of 36 families who were in danger of losing power during the holiday season.

Florida man pays 36 families’ overdue utility bills

A pool installation company owner in Florida has paid off the bills of 36 families who were in danger of losing power during the holiday season. After receiving his own utility bill, Michael Esmond got the idea to "take a little bit of stress out" of the season for his neighbours.

He contacted the city of Gulf Breeze, where he lives, to ask about helping out everyone whose payment was overdue. He says he was motivated by his own unheated holiday season years ago.

While paying his gas and water bill earlier this month, Mr Esmond, 73, said that he noticed that it read that the due date was 26 December and that supplies may be cut if not paid by then.

"This actually happened to me back in the 80s," he told BBC News, saying that he was having trouble juggling the costs of bills and Christmas gifts back then. "We actually had the gas shut off the whole entire winter," he said, adding that it happened to be one of the coldest ever recorded winters in Pensacola.

Joanne Oliver, Gulf Breeze’s utility billing supervisor, told WEAR-TV that she cried when he first approached her with the idea. "For someone like him, a veteran to come in and do some grand gesture. It was heartfelt for me," she said.

In total, Mr Esmond paid $4,600 (£3,500) to help 36 families in his community of 6,000 residents. Continued below…

Source: BBC

The cards read:
Instead of warnings, the families received cards. The cards read: “It is our honor and privilege to inform you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas. You can rest earlier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay. On behalf of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas we here at the City of Gulf Breeze would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season.” Source: weartv.com

Generous Mr. Esmond says he’s already thinking of what he can do next year

But what he didn’t know until later was that the city sent out holiday cards to the recipients of his generosity saying: "It is our honour and privilege to inform you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze pools & Spas. You can rest easier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay."

"I think I really struck a nerve with a lot of people. People don’t realise that there are people right now that don’t have heat and electricity and everything in their house and their going to go through Christmas without that. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing with text messages and emails for days now," he says, with many people promising him they will "pay it forward" and do charitable acts that he helped to inspire. "It’s just mind boggling to me," he added.

Mr. Esmond says he’s already thinking of what he can do next year, but says it definitely will not be the same act of kindness.

"People say ‘are you going to do this again next year’, and my reply to them is, if people knew I was going to do this nobody would pay their bill.

"They’d all wait for me to pay it," he chuckled. "I’ll have to think up something."

Source: BBC

He found out who was at risk of having their power turned off.
Michael Esmond has paid off 36 families’ utility bills. He found out who was at risk of having their power turned off. Source: weartv.com
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